Posts Tagged With: family

Lake Elsinore – RV Trip #3

Lake Park RV Resort - Lake Elsinore, CA

Lake Park RV Resort – Lake Elsinore, CA

I’m sitting on the couch in Redondo Beach, tired but happy. Laura and I just got through our third RV trip. This was another learning and shakedown trip. It was our longest to date – four days. I wish it could have been longer.

We tried out a couple of new facets of the RV lifestyle.

First, we decided to take our cat with us, as I mentioned in the last article. The Cat’s First Camping Trip

And second, we tried out our new membership in Passport America to get our nightly cost down to something a little more affordable.

This was not a “destination” trip, meaning that we didn’t go to a place that had lots of great sights and activities. We went instead to a Passport America park that had reasonable rates and was not unbearably hot in June.

The place we chose was Lake Park RV Resort and Lodge, which was one of two places that Passport America had listed on Lake Elsinore. We got two of our four nights for half price. The entire four nights cost just $105.

Lake Elsinore

Lake Elsinore

 

About the Lake

Lake Elsinore is in the Inland Empire, close to Temecula. It is the largest natural lake in Southern California. What does “natural” mean? Not man made. We didn’t build a dam and let water back up here. Lake Elsinore is in a natural basin. Water flows in from the San Jacinto River. Some work has been done over the years to keep the level of the lake stable via an outflow mechanism, but it basically remains a natural lake today.

My only prior experience at this lake was as a child, on an early boating trip with my family. I remember two things about this trip. Yards and yards of mud along the shore, and a mishap at the launching ramp that could have been a disaster. I don’t know what caused all the mud to be there, and there was no mud on this trip. The launching ramp incident was scary. My Mom was backing the boat down the launching ramp when the brakes in our ’64 Chrysler Newport gave out. The emergency brake was the only thing that stopped our car from rolling all the way into the water.

Old days of family boating. Not sure if this is Lake Elsinore or Lake San Antonio

Old days of family boating. Not sure if this is Lake Elsinore or Lake San Antonio

I remember reading about Lake Elsinore as a Jr High kid, mainly because of the famous dirt bike race that was held there from the mid 60s to the mid 70s. This race drew famous participants like Steve McQueen and Malcolm Smith. Honda named it’s first line of competition dirt bikes after this race….The CR250M Elsinore. In the mid-70s, violent outlaw bikers stared showing up to this event, causing so many problems that the City of Lake Elsinore had no choice but to shut it down. The event was brought back in 1996 and continues today, on a provisional basis.

Steve McQueen racing in the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix

About the RV Park

The campground turned out to be nice, but I would not call it a “Resort”. It’s a pretty large facility, and it does have some nice features.

There were the usual full hookup facilities for RVs on wide gravel spaces, with a mixture of 50 amp and 30 amp outlets that appeared to be randomly placed. There was sewer, water, and cable TV. Note long term “full timer” stuff next to us….storage lockers/sheds.

Hookups

Hookups

The Olympic sized swimming pool was nice. We used it a couple of times.

Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool

There are BBQ facilities by the pool with a large gazebo and tables. With all of the trees, it was fairly cool in here even during the heat of the day.

Gazebo and BBQ facilities by the pool.

Gazebo and BBQ facilities by the pool.

Two gazebos are next to the lake with tables and BBQs. This is a charming feature, but I didn’t see anybody using them. There was work being done in this area….note the bulldozer. They are spreading gravel on a large flat area towards the rear of this photo. Apparently this new area will be for RVs, but with no hookups.

Gazebo

Gazebo

There is a large grassy area across the road from the Pool, with rental “cabins” to the right.

Large grassy area. Cabins are off to right of picture.

Large grassy area. Cabins are off to right of picture. Note businesses across the Hwy. One is a Mini Mart.

Our dog enjoyed the grassy area.

Izzy on the grass, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells.

Izzy on the grass, enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells.

The best spaces in the park overlook the lake, but all of those spaces contain park model trailers. Park models appear to be short single wide mobile homes. You can see one of them in the background of this shot.

Park Models can be seen facing Gazebos by the lake shore

Park Models can be seen facing Gazebos by the lake shore

It’s between 300 and 400 yards of walking to get from the regular RV area we were in to the lakeside.

There is no sandy beach……it’s basically dried dirt with rocks. Branches stick out of the water.

No beach....dried mud with bushes sticking out of the water. Wouldn't swim here.

No beach….dried mud with bushes sticking out of the water. Wouldn’t swim here.

Next to the Lake Park is a launching ramp and parking lot belonging to another facility. It was busy on Sunday but deserted during the week days.

Launching ramp next door

Launching ramp next door

This facility has many full time residents. I saw a lot of Class A motor homes and 5th Wheel trailers that didn’t look like they had been moved for many months. There was a bus conversion next to us, which had flat rear tires and bricks around the edges.

There are three main “streets” that have RV spaces on either side. Here is a typical view. There were quite a few open spaces available.

Looking down one of the streets. Many long term guests here.

Looking down one of the streets. Many long term guests here. At the end of the road you can see the “Motel” rooms.

I would say there were 30-40 RVs at the park while we were there, but only about 10 of these appeared to be short term guests.

The spaces here are very good sized, with ample room to park a TOAD, leaving plenty of outside space to sit with a group of people. No fires are allowed in the spaces, though.

Large space

Large space – the tree marks the back of the space. I’m shooting the picture from an empty space that opens onto one of the other three streets.

The lake itself was larger than I expected. The water is like I remembered it from my earlier trip….brownish green. It looks a little muddy. I had planned to so some fishing, but never got around to it.

Another view of the lake. It's pretty large. Lots of room for boating

Another view of the lake. It’s pretty large. Lots of room for boating

Free wireless internet was available, and worked well most of the time. There were a couple of short periods where we couldn’t connect, but speed was good enough to upload pictures for the last article on this blog.

The people here are friendly. Almost everybody waves to you as they walk by, and we had a couple of short conversations with fellow dog walkers (dogs are such a great ice breaker).

This was the first trip where the coach was situated at the right angle to use the awning. This provided shade in the middle of the day….mid morning to early afternoon. From about 3:00 to about 5:00 the shade goes away, and the sun is too hot to be outside. After 5:00 it got really nice, because one of the many trees in the park shaded most of the passenger side of our coach. This was perfect….sitting outside in the gentle breeze, having some beer and listening to music. Very relaxing.

It's Post Time!

It’s Post Time!

The experiment with our cat Milhouse was a success. He was nervous at first, but by the end of the second day, he was into the swing of things. He liked sitting in the bedroom, on the little counter that has a window, watching the world go by. We will take him on our future trips.

Milhouse by the bedroom window

Milhouse by the bedroom window

We put the cat box in the shower, with a white plastic trash bag under it to insure no litter gets into the grey tank. It worked out really well, but you have to keep it scooped out all the time! The quarters are too close for a smelly cat box.

Cat box. These high sided boxes work really well.

Cat box. These high sided boxes work really well.

Laura and I spent a lot of time on writing projects during this trip, as we have on our other trips. I spent much of my time editing the first draft of a novel. Laura was working on writing exercises and blog posts. This is one of the things I like best about RVing so far. Being able to write in various locations is very appealing to me, and has been working out well so far.

Overall, I’m pleased with this trip, and would visit this RV Park again. It had a nice laid-back vibe. There wasn’t any loud partying going on, and the people were nice. Facilities were good. There are a couple of mini-markets and an ice cream place that are walking distance from the park, but they are across Hwy 74 (the Ortega Hwy), so you have to be careful crossing. There is a Jack in the Box next to the park that doesn’t require crossing the Hwy, which is nice.

Our coach is now at the dealer’s service department. We are getting the damage repaired that happened during the recent break-ins at our storage facility. We are also getting a couple of warranty fixes done. Our black tank drain valve is leaking a little bit, and the housing for our water filter is stuck so tight that I can’t get it off. So Curious George will be laid up for a couple of weeks.

Can’t wait to get her back, and go on another adventure!

Categories: Life on the Road | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

It’s later than you think

It happened again. Somebody in my life dropped dead yesterday. Unexpectedly. At 59 years of age.

Gayle was a hair stylist, and he had my wife, my mother in law, and me as clients. Stereotypes are often based in truth, and yes, this man was gay. He was actually one of the handful of gay men that I’ve had lengthy conversations with. That I knew well. I really liked this man, and the shock of his sudden passing has me really upset.

I found out about this on Facebook. All of a sudden I started seeing condolence messages popping up on my wall. I didn’t get it at first. I thought that one of Gayle’s friends had passed, and it was his friends sending condolence messages for his loss. I was interested to find out who this was, so I went to his wall. The reality of what happened smacked me. Hard. I told my wife, and she thought I was misunderstanding something. No. It was true. Our friend was gone.

Gayle was not married, and there is nobody out there to remove his Facebook page, so of course it has turned into pages and pages of condolence messages and tributes and shock and hurt. And pictures. So many pictures, with his smiling face, surrounded by his friends. This is good. Another friend (Anne) passed a few years ago, and I also saw it on Facebook. In this case, Anne was survived by a spouse, and he shut down the Facebook page almost immediately. That left a hole. It was harder than this.

Gayle had asked my wife to remind me to bring my iPAD to my last appointment, so he could see pictures of our new RV. I did that, and before he got started working on my hair, we looked at the pictures. He was so excited for us. After that, we had conversation about all kinds of things, for the whole time I was there. We talked of volunteer work he was doing at the YWCA, the upcoming Long Beach Grand Prix, movies, a musical I was playing in, and many other things.

So what does this have to do with the RV lifestyle, and Retirement? Why am I putting this on The Two Who Wander?

Gayle is the latest in a growing number of people I know who have passed much earlier than expected. It serves as a reminder that life is fragile, and none of us know how much more time we have.

Laura and I are looking forward to adventures in our RV. If we are lucky, we will be healthy enough to enjoy this lifestyle for 10 to 15 years. A lot of people aren’t that lucky. A lot of people don’t make it to retirement. This gave Laura and I a feeling of urgency. We knew that the clock was running, and if we were going to do this lifestyle, we had to jump in. Now.

Both of us had reservations about doing this. Getting into the RV lifestyle is a big outlay of resources – both time and money resources. We’ve had negative feedback. I’ve been on forum threads where people ridiculed others for borrowing money to buy an RV, saying that smart people will save their money until they can afford to pay cash. We’ve had people poke at our good fortune of having a sound retirement that provides enough resources to get into the RV lifestyle. It’s just not fair, they tell us, because everybody isn’t that lucky. Maybe not, but there was a lot of hard work involved to earn this….with many 60-70 hour weeks worked over the years. We even have a family member calling us “selfish” because we don’t use our resources and time purely for elder and offspring support.

I’ve worked through all of this in my mind. I’ve rejected the negative feedback. All of it.

We have responsibilities to our family, and we will fulfill those as needed, no matter what. We won’t take away the very real value to our children of making their own way in life – we won’t use our remaining resources to make it overly easy. If my parents would have done that, I would not have tried as hard, and I would not have achieved as much. I would not have what I have now. If and when any of our children get into real trouble, we will be there. I mean real trouble. We have done that before.

I’m not worried about borrowing money to buy an RV. With money as cheap as it is now, and the tax advantage available on the interest, it doesn’t make sense to avoid a loan. And of course there is always the possibility that you’re gone before you have saved enough to avoid a loan. Is that a good thing?

Laura and I made choices during our working lives that resulted in us having good pensions and savings. This involved a lot of hard work, some smarts, and some luck. Going back to school to get additional education while working full time is something that both of us did. We both worked a lot of overtime, either for pay or just for career advancement. Do I feel guilty about what we have achieved? Not one bit, but I do feel blessed and humbled and fortunate and thankful. A lot of people helped. Parents, family, friends, co-workers.

I feel just terrible that Gayle died before he got to take a rest and enjoy retirement. I feel the same way for Beth, who died at just 55, and our friend Monica, and our friend Anne, and my cousin Roger, and my brother Lew, who died at only 25.

These are wake up calls for those who live on.

Wake up and live life while you can. Don’t take what you have for granted. Do what makes you happy. Use your time and resources for what you want. Cherish the time you have left.

It’s later than you think.

 

Categories: Retirement | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Fridays are still good

Dining room or workspace? Or BOTH!

Dining room or workspace? Or BOTH!

Fridays.

Man, how I used to love Fridays when I was working. Light work days, with many of the more demanding people off. A day to catch up and actually get something done. Less meetings. Less fighting. More relaxed atmosphere. The excitement of a couple of days off in front of me. The relief. The anticipation of late nights watching movies, not worried about getting up the next day. Lazy Saturdays and Sundays. Fishing on the beach. Beers on the balcony, with the stereo going. Parties with family and friends.

I’ve been retired for around 7 months now. More than half a year, but sometimes it seems like I just walked out of work a couple of weeks ago.

My first post on this blog was about stepping into retirement. I felt like I was in the starting gate, and I didn’t have a good idea of what would follow or how I would like it. I was concerned with big household jobs I had coming up, and how to live my life without the structure of work. I yearned to live more in the now. Take time to smell the flowers, enjoy the quiet times, and just relax.

Am I still drifting around, wondering what to do?

Most of the jobs I was so worried about early in my retirement are out of the way now. There is always more to do, but life goes on and I’ll get to it. No, I’m not really living in the now much more than I did before. I still make lists in my head of things that are stacking up on my to-do list, and find myself feeling pressure. I’m OK with that. It’s my personality, and I really wouldn’t be happy if I changed. I watch my dog living in the now. I don’t think I could take the rapid ups and downs that I watch her go through. To me, thinking about the broad future – planned and unplanned – is more of a comfort than a worry most of the time. I can visualize a future that I want, and then do things to make it so. This won’t always work out, but at least I have a fighting chance. My dog can’t do that. She is always at the mercy of everything around her, being lifted and dropped by the rolling waves of a life she can’t control.

I’m going to be somebody who will always need his work, and I need some structure to stay on track. I’ve found that structure, and it’s working fairly well so far. It’s keeping me from sitting on the couch watching TV all day, which I think would be the death of me.

What am I doing?

I have a routine to start my day, and that keeps me from sitting around trying to decide what I want to do for hours on end. I have interests to fit into that starting routine, and once I’m running, it’s easy to transition to another interest from there after a while. I still sit around some and watch TV, but more often than not, it’s off until late afternoon or early evening.

There are two main interests that are part of my day to day life, and the structure of my day is built around them. I’m continuing on with the main interest that I kept up with while I was working, and I’ve gone back to an old interest that life as a working stiff and dad prevented me from enjoying to the fullest.

The ongoing interest is music. I’ve been playing ‘cello for most of my life, mainly in symphony orchestras, and in the orchestra pits for stage musicals. My pursuit of this interest hasn’t really changed very much since I retired. I practice more now, but that’s about it. I’ve always thought that I would pursue more playing opportunities when I retired, but I haven’t done that so far. Adding another orchestra is a possibility, and there is a local one that would like me to play, but two things are holding me back….freedom to travel at the drop of a hat, and aging hands that limit the number of hours I can practice in a given week. I plan to continue to play as long as my hands and mind hold up, but don’t plan to ramp that up too much.

The old interest that I’ve gone back to is writing. Fiction writing. In my earlier days, I did quite a bit of that. Short stories, partially completed novels, scraps of good and bad stuff. The time that I was most prolific was during the mid 1980s, after I had finished my BS in Business. I was working full time while attending college, and when I was done, I had to have something to help me slow the flywheel that was driving me. I would go out to the little room inside the garage that I did homework in, and hammer away on my Commodore 64.

I slowed down and stopped the writing after a year or so. There were some good reasons for this. The most important one was my family…..my first two sons were growing up rapidly, and I needed to spend more and more time with them. My wife, who was losing patience with my alone time, needed more from me as well. And finally, I ended up with two more kids on the way (twins)…..so my focus had to change quickly. This was in no way a bad thing. Many of the happiest memories of my life were from this time. Watching the boys grow and explore life. Indian Guides, Little League, AYSO Soccer, Roller Hockey, family camp outs, boating, trips to Bullhead City, and more. I miss all of that, and wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

The structure I’ve set up for myself is pretty simple. I get up in the morning, feed the dog and cats, and then come down to the room I’m sitting in now. I start writing. Sometimes it takes me a little while to get going, but generally I’m into it after 15-20 minutes of checking various sites on the internet and looking at e-mail. I usually write from about 9:00 am to about noon, unless I’m really rolling, in which case I can go until 1:00 or 2:00. Laura is generally writing at the same time as well, so it’s pretty quiet in the house at this time. I’m really enjoying this right now…..in fact it’s usually the highlight of my day.

After the writing session is done, I’ll have some lunch, take the dog for a walk, and then practice ‘cello for a little while. After that, the day is pretty open….Laura and I figure out what we want to do. Several days a week we go to the gym. Other days we run errands. Sometimes we just kick back and talk, and every once in a while we watch TV.

It doesn’t make too much difference to me if we are at home or in the RV….this structure basically works. I enjoy writing time in the RV, and I think Laura does too.

The fiction project I’m working on right now is a novel. It’s about serial killers and those that hunt them, and yes, there are RV’s involved (of course). Is it any good? I don’t know. It might be crap. Either way, I’m enjoying the experience of writing it, so I’ll keep going, and we’ll see what happens.

I take a break from the fiction every so often to write articles like this for The Two Who Wander. I enjoy that too, but I don’t lose myself in the writing like I do with fiction. When I’m writing the fiction, I’m in the story. Some days it’s really hard to drag myself out of that world.

So I’m no longer in the starting gate. I’m off and running. I’ve found what I want to do, for now, and I’m enjoying it. Before I got going, I used to think about work. I still think about friends from work, but the old project and it’s environs are never on my mind. That tells me that I’ve made the transition. I’m retired.

Fridays? Yes, surprisingly, they are still just about my favorite day. There is still the anticipation and excitement. Maybe I’ll stay up later tonight, and watch some movies. Oh yeah, and there’s a party to go to this weekend!

 

 

 

Categories: Retirement | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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